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12/01/2003 - Terabyte Tapestry

Intelligent Community Awards
City of Spokane, Washington

The City of Spokane, Washington, is in Eastern Washington, about 18 miles from the Idaho boarder. It is about midway between Oregon to the south and Canada to the north.
Spokane’s population, according to the 2000 Census, is 195,629 with a median age of 34.7. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington. Spokane County's 2002 population of 425,600 includes both incorporated areas and unincorporated areas.
Major Features
Spokane was built along a picturesque river valley on the Western decline of the Rocky Mountains and with rolling prairie, The Palouse, to the south and west. Early wealth came from railroads and agriculture, as well as mining, lumber, and other extractive industries. The newly made millionaires, around the turn of the 19th century, created a city by building ornate “skyscrapers” -- vying with each other for height and footprint. The buildings were built to last – thanks to a catastrophic fire in 1889. Unlike many American cities, most of those grand building still stand.

Through its first century, Spokane’s fortunes ebbed and flowed. A grand hotel, The Davenport, was built and played host to Presidents, Royalty, celebrities, and ‘just plain folks.’ Vachel Lindsey, Woody Guthrie, and James Hill spent time in Spokane. There was a period of intense ‘Wobbly’ activity. Thanks to cheap water powered electricity, Henry Kaiser built two huge aluminum processing plants here. Home grown notables such as Bing Crosby, Patrice Munsell, Julia Sweeny, and Carolyn Kizer influenced the culture. In 1974, Spokane was the smallest city ever to create and host a World’s Exposition. The Spokane river, once surrounded by railroad yards, was reclaimed by the Exposition and is now the focal point of large, green, urban park in the center of downtown Spokane.

Spokane is the major economic hub of Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Mining, lumber, and agriculture are still important, but manufacturing, medical services, and technology have surpassed them. The area has four 4-year universities, and an extensive community college system. The Spokane region has more miles of fiber per capita than any other area in the world, with fiber connections used for both industrial and home applications.

Industries and Employment

Spokane’s major employers, based on number of employees, are Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane Public Schools, Sacred Heart Medical Center, State of Washington, City of Spokane, Empire Health Services, Spokane County, U. S Government, and Community Colleges of Spokane. Spokane’s top high tech employers include Agilent Technologies, Avista Corporation, Honeywell Electronic Materials, Telect Inc., Itronix Technology Corp. Itron Inc., Software Spectrum, and Getronics.

Spokane also has a thriving, if smaller, industry in Biotech, medical device design and manufacturing, high tech, and customer contact centers. Today Spokane’s miles of fiber are being used to bring business and economic opportunities, health care, education, and entertainment to the entire 4-state Inland Northwest region.

The Terabyte Triangle (TT) , a cluster of wired downtown buildings with about a half-dozen different providers of fiber-optic connections and DSL, is one of the most wired metro areas, offering high-speed and high-performance Internet connectivity.

Spokane's Education Metropolitan Area Network (E-MAN), a gigabit Ethernet connection to all classrooms in more than 53 schools and colleges, has been ranked No. 1 in the world. Spokane Intercollegiate Research & Technology Institute (SIRTI) is a technology incubator and manages programs that help companies advance the transfer, application, and commercialization of their technology.

Inland Northwest Health Service (INHS) built and maintains an optical fiber network that serves rural areas of the entire State of Washington. The Inland Northwest Community Access Network (TINCAN) provides Internet access, educational programs and training, economic development, and social service resources to the economically disadvantaged.

The newly created Virtual Possibilities Network (VPnet) is a public/private collaboration for research, education and economic development made possible by Avista Corporation’s donation to the community of dark fiber infrastructure for economic development through research among the universities .

The City of Spokane uses available connectivity for a full range of services with everything from GIS mapping to finding rooms and resources for the homeless. All citizens have access to our extensive libraries which are also networked to our community centers, COP shops and branch libraries. All Fire Department vehicles have ruggedized laptop computers made by local vendor, Itronix, for wireless connectivity to city resources in support of our public safety mission.

Even the Boys and Girls Clubs of America use a fiber network to connect their bingo halls.

The Challenge

Every community is challenged to re-invent itself as economic factors change, industries rise and fall, and world dynamics exert influence. The quality and intelligence of the re-invention depends on the vision; understanding of global trends; dedication of key people; understanding of the community’s history; and an understanding of local economic structure and trends. Also critical, is an astute assessment of local assets and the ability, knowledge, and desire to make the most of the available assets. A truly intelligent community has a vision of the future -- based on its assets -- and a plan to use, build on, add to and improve these assets. Spokane possesses all of these elements.


Spokane was a Victorian boomtown whose rapid growth began with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1881. Following a gold rush and a silver bonanza, Spokane grew to 20,000 by 1890 and doubled in population in the next decade. Spokane also became the marketing center for the newly developed wheat farms of Washington’s nearby Palouse Hills. By 1910, Spokane had a population of 104,000 people, served five transcontinental railroad lines, and was the capital of “the Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest.”

The next decade, 1910 to 1920, saw the end of Spokane’s formative boom period, as much of its silver wealth was lost during the industrial reorganizations bought on by World War I. Although population growth slowed dramatically, the region remained a marketing center for wheat, timber, and cattle. Additional resource-based industries, like Kaiser Aluminum, drawn by local hydropower, brought an influx of workers into Spokane. The population soared to 162,000, but remained flat for a decade afterward.

Baseline Economic Study, 1969 – 1991

Professor Gary Smith of Washington State University conducted a study of the structure and dynamics of the Spokane economy from 1969 to 1991. The study was first published in 1994. Smith’s study included the following data for personal income for 1969 - 1991. (See Northwest Policy Council report to the State of Washington Higher Education coordinating Board.)

 Spokane ranked fourth in Washington State in total personal income.
 Spokane echoed the nation’s rate of increase.
 Spokane lagged in personal income behind Washington’s Puget Sound.
 Spokane did better in personal income than the nation in the 1970s, but dropped behind in the 1980s.

According to Smith, Spokane’s employment growth was 67.2% over the 22-year period. Industry earnings statistics showed that in 1991, manufacturing, construction and mining accounted for 21.8% of all industry earnings – only 2/3 of the state average. This was also lower than the national average. The wealth provided by the extractive industries and related manufacturing eroded before and during the baseline period by depletion of resources, growing international competition, environmental issues, and transfer of resource ownership to larger, out-of-region control organizations.

The study showed a distinct and growing tilt of the Spokane economy towards service producing industries and away from the goods-producing industries. These included: wholesale and retail trade, health care services, federal military and state and local government. Of those, the health services sector was relatively larger in Spokane than nationally. Average earnings per job increased threefold from 1969 to 1991, but inflation destroyed the gains.

State of Washington and Local Response

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, there was a growing hope that high technology industries could add markedly to the Spokane metro area. Some challenged the feasibility of this goal without a research university saying that Spokane could not hope to compete in the newly emerging world of high technology or biotechnology without this vital asset.

Although Spokane has four 4-year universities and a thriving community college system, Spokane has been bereft of a technology transfer, research university. All of the universities have post baccalaureate programs, but prior to 1988, there was little if any collaboration between programs, faculties, or students of any of these institutions.

To answer the challenge, the Washington State Legislature, with local guidance, created the Spokane Riverpoint Higher Education Park and created the Joint Center for Higher Education (JCHE). The JCHE mandate was to catalyze a high tech sector, begin the effort to provide high tech worker education programs, and to be the administrative agent for the newly created Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI). The JCHE was to spur university collaboration in teaching of computer science, biotechnology, and other technology classes; collaboration in research projects especially with industry partners; and foster high-tech worker education and training programs. SIRTI was to be operated as a research and technology-facilitating institute that would provide grants, independent research laboratory space, project management help, infrastructure, and the capability of scientists from all local colleges and universities to collaborate. (See Spokane Higher Education Park at Riverpoint, Master Plan and Design Guidelines.)

The Strategy

Spokane’s Intelligent Community did not happen by fiat or mandate. People with domain knowledge developed strategy in their domain almost simultaneously --- but sometimes in tandem. One of the most important factors was the decision in the late 1980s to create, build, and fund the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI) and the Riverpoint Higher Education Park. By the early 1990's, realization was spreading over the community in general, business, and organizations that new network technologies could suffuse the local community, accelerate development of high tech clusters, enhance educational collaboration, develop new specific applications of economic value, and provide job training and social services.

The first SIRTI building design, in 1990, had many advanced features, and although many high tech labs were scheduled, computer networking was not part of the early plan. Distance education based on the technology of the day, like analogue television and satellite uplinks, were part of the design. However, by l994, the SIRTI administration realized that computer networking was an opportunity that would greatly accelerate SIRTI’s efforts to create a high tech economic sector. Networked efforts could help educational collaboration and research, and could create networking based technology projects.

Wiring the Challenge

In January 1994, at SIRTI’s behest, a broadly representative group representing all locally operating universities and colleges, the public library system, US West (now Qwest), public utility Washington Water Power (now Avista) network design engineers, network design companies, and network installation companies met to prepare a strategic plan for the metropolitan area. This was the SIRTI Telecommunications Committee (STC). (See, Strategic Plan for Spokane Metro Area Networking.)

By the end of the first quarter of 1994, the committee submitted the following strategic recommendations.

 Focus on an Optical Fiber Infrastructure
 Use a mix of optical fiber models – Dark and Lit
 Couple Communications Initiatives to Service Sectors

Optical Fiber
The STC recommended the use of optical fiber because it has an estimated 30 year life cycle, can be deployed anywhere a copper wire can go, and has essentially unlimited bandwidth. The trend, STC continued, is toward greater use of multimedia in communications, digital convergence of media, and rapidly increasing transmission of data, all indicating that the ever growing signal capacity of fiber is extremely important for long term future planning.

Dark and Lit Fiber
In 1994, the common business model in telecommunications was that of the bundled service package over vendor-provided infrastructure. Unbundled, dark fiber had key advantages for a future-oriented networking plan. These included the ability to create and provide services that are extremely valuable and important to a specific, but limited constituency who may not have a mass market. The STC recommended that an aggressive effort be made to provide a mixed environment, as strategic fiber is deployed for various initiatives, which includes both bundled services and unbundled services to encourage novel and special connectivity applications.
Couple Communications Initiatives with Service Sectors
The STC recommended that projects, grants, collaborations, and community and government partnerships be formed with service sectors for the development of existing and potential future services of great economic value.

Specifically, the STC suggested the inclusion of a project for network application to health care systems, including data sharing, data management, improving the quality of patient care, and cost reductions available through computer networking. The project would operate in conjunction with the civic community of medical providers and institutions with universities, government units and the private sector.

Included in the long-term development plan for the Riverpoint Campus was a collaborative and well supported Network Operations Center (NOC). The NOC would support various universities and community services as well as providing extensive opportunities for collaboration, innovation and operational cost reduction through economies of scope.

Because of the wide variety of organization involved in the process, the STC strategic plan became the “master plan” for the various member organizations.

Other Strategists

1994 was a year for innovation. The two largest healthcare providers formed a new not-for-profit corporation called Inland Northwest Health Service to improve patient health care delivery and for a better price. Spokane School District 81 had completed a technology study and had implemented a strategic plan promoting efficiency, and calling for facilities and technology to support and strengthen the educational program. The Inland Northwest Community Access Network (TINCAN) was formed at Eastern Washington University. Network designers at local utility, Washington Water Power (now Avista Corp.), began the design of an optical fiber network for the Spokane Metropolitan area and the creation of a business plan for its subsequent deployment. All of these strategic efforts were brought to the attention of the STC through its members.

Beginning in 1997, the Avista optical fiber network was begun. Other optical fiber providers worked beside Avista. GST, NEXTLINK, Qwest, and Electric Lightwave all laid optical fiber cable on the basis of ‘if we build it, they will come.’ The widespread availability of optical fiber began slowly to change the community.

Also in 1997, the downtown Spokane economic development initiative, Terabyte Triangle began. Thanks in part to the flat growth and economy in the 1950s; Spokane is rich with vintage, elegant, historic buildings with high ceilings, large windows, and gracious atmosphere. The Terabyte Triangle’s purpose was to stimulate occupancy, new businesses, and jobs by encouraging downtown Spokane landlords to retrofit their buildings with the newly available optical fiber – high-speed networks. Thanks to urban density and fiber proximity, the downtown landlord could create a high-tech building affordably, and last mile problems were more easily solved. The strategy was to combine mutually supportive and mutually beneficial businesses within reach of each other, and to use the growing economic power of the Internet to make money. Focus groups were held to identify what connectivity services the high tech community believed to be indispensable. The Terabyte Triangle is a triangular shaped area that encompasses the downtown Spokane core. (See The Terabyte Triangle Briefing Book.)

In 1998, School District 81, with the financial and technical help of Avista and Packet Engines, a Spokane high tech company, began their EMAN that provides a fiber connection to every classroom in District 81. Today, optical fiber connections are available to most of the classrooms in the various school districts in all of Spokane County.

The City of Spokane moved toward adoption of the new technology with the implementation of a GIS system to aid emergency service deployment. In 2000, the city created the Spokane Regional Traffic Management Center (SRTMC) to integrate regional traffic management.

High tech business requires high tech knowledge workers. Along with two and four-year higher education institutions, Spokane developed the Inland Northwest Technology Education Center (INTEC). INTEC is a non-profit organization facilitating collaboration between education, government, and business to enable workforce development and the creation of an Innovation economy (See Innovation Economy Strategic Action Plan). In conjunction with the Community Colleges of Spokane, a high school level Information Technologies Academy and a Biotechnologies Academy were developed.

To combat the lack of a research university, on December 7th, 2001, the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees approved a plan for uniting --- over high-speed optical fiber --- the regions colleges and universities into one collaborating ‘digital university’ system. At fruition this system, called the Inland Northwest Digital University (INDU) will be larger than most major research universities.

As an extension of the INDU project, the public/private collaboration VPnet was born. Described as “an economic development tool for the Inland Northwest to facilitate the creation of, and access to, a durable high-speed communications network,” the VPnet is essentially an Avista Corp. gift of dark fiber for an ‘unlimited’ bandwidth Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). The Metropolitan area is now challenged to invent uses for the VPnet for that will benefit the entire community.

Funding Challenge

Funding the Challenge is a challenge. Spokane’s high tech industry has received venture capital, angel investment, SBA backed loans, SBIR grants, NSF grants, Department of the Navy grants, and old fashioned bank loans. New sources of capital are always under investigation.

Measurable Results of Strategy

Spokane has many measurable results from Intelligent Community strategy. In order to keep this document at manageable length, a representative sample has been chosen to discuss in detail.


At the time of an inventory taken in 1999, Spokane had five optical fiber connectivity providers. They were Avista Fiber, Inc, Electric Lightwave, Inc., GST Telecommunications, Inc., (now Time-Warner), NEXTLINK Washington, Inc. (now XO Communications, Inc.), and US West Communications, Inc. (now Qwest). Of those, only Avista Fiber, Inc. provided dark fiber and dark fiber leases. The other providers supplied mostly bundled services, but of those, both XO Communications and Time-Warner have been instrumental in providing optical fiber connectivity in many downtown Spokane buildings.

Avista Fiber became Avista Communications, and the company laid over 300 miles of optical fiber cable in a complex topology that extended throughout the City of Spokane and on into the industrial suburbs. Avista Communications later divested some of their fiber assets. Some assets were sold to Columbia Fiber, Inc.. The City retained some fiber strands for its use, Spokane School District 81 is using Avista fiber for its EMAN, and Avista, Inc. donated fiber strands for the newly created VPnet.

Spokane also has wireless providers. For the past eight years, from its point-of-presence (POP) in the Paulsen building, Northwest Microwave has been a long-haul operator with POPs and repeaters connecting Eastern Washington from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene, Pullman, Lewiston, Walla Walla, Yakima, Seattle, and beyond. There are other companies providing 802.11b wireless connectivity throughout Spokane.

The Education Sector
When Avista Fiber created its fiber optic network, it did so partly as a partner with area school districts, so optical fiber is available near many of the area’s schools in addition to most commercial centers within Spokane. Avista and School District 81 created an Education Metropolitan Area Network (EMAN) that Cisco Systems engineers have ranked number one in the world. Only Stockholm, Sweden’s EMAN approaches Spokane’s network in bandwidth, speed, and Quality-of-Service. “The 1998 Facilities Improvement Bond provided communications improvements, so School District 81 teamed up with Avista Fiber and Packet Engines, (now Alcatel), Touch America, and Aztec Electric to construct the world’s first fiber Gigabit Ethernet MAN,” according to Dennis Schweikhardt, Manager of technology infrastructure for Spokane Public Schools. The EMAN uses a self-healing dark fiber ring and Gigabit Ethernet technology. The Packet Engines PowerRail 5200 gigabit switch in the District 81 administration building provides the core of the E-MAN.

“Now gigabit fiber connects all District 81 school buildings, and Spokane boasts 10/100 switched Ethernet to all classrooms.” Schweikhardt asserts. Wiring in every classroom supports either telephone or computer connections in each outlet on the wall. This advanced wiring supports telephones, Internet access, voice/data interchange, and streaming, interactive desktop video.

According to Schweikhardt, “Having EMAN available with all its technological power improves the quality of education for all District 81 students.” “The broadband, high-speed capability means that elementary schools can make hearing and deaf programs available by 2-way interactive video teleconferencing.” Computer students in Middle Schools can evaluate Internet pages simultaneously as opposed to the one at a time mode required previously. School libraries can both save money and maximize resources by having research CD-ROM’s available at the central library. These research materials are available on demand to students at all schools.

“All District 81 sites profit from the quality and speed of the EMAN,” Schweikhardt states. Every day all high schools transmit data to District 81 headquarters. In the past, a two-hour transmission time elapsed. Today, the same data requires only two minutes transmittal time.

EMAN connects Spokane’s Community Colleges. Ongoing plans exist to connect all the other area colleges and universities as well.
Information Technologies Academy and Biotechnologies Academy
In conjunction with Running Start, the Community Colleges of Spokane helped create the Information Technologies Academy and the Biotechnologies Academy to address student and community needs for high school students. The two academies are in the Holley-Mason Building in downtown Spokane. Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) instructors teach all classes, and the student body is made up of a mix of academy and Running Start students. The Academy has its own culture and the kids take pride in their “work place.” The non-institutional Holley-Mason building is an important contributor to the relaxed atmosphere of the Academy. As student Dylan Moline put it, “It’s more interesting than high school.” “This is giving me a jump start on the job world.”
University Collaboration
After months of preparations, Avista revealed its Virtual Possibilities Network (VPnet) at a press conference on November 26, 2002. Billed as “an economic development tool for the Inland Northwest to facilitate the creation of, and access to, a durable high-speed communications network,” the VPnet is essentially an Avista Corp. gift of dark fiber for an ‘unlimited’ bandwidth Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). The MAN is to eventually connect all of the universities and colleges in the Inland Northwest. Currently over 200 miles of dark fiber reaches ten of the fourteen college and university locations participating in the VPnet program. The VPnet has its governance in place -- including a technical standards committee to make sure all participants’ equipment will talk to each other.

Avista’s contribution is two strands of dark fiber for a renewable five-year period, and the creation, organization, and launch of the VPnet governance structure. The governance structure is made up from the member universities, but Avista is participating in an exofficio role. Columbia Fiber Solutions, a VPnet project partner, is donating additional fiber for last mile connectivity.

The initial phase has been activated between SIRTI and Whitworth. This connection uses gigabit Ethernet to carry the information, providing one gigabit of bandwidth. Voice, video, and data transmission have been tested. The initial hookup will be minimal (a low cost pilot phase) and will be upgraded in future phases by additional equipment, destinations and bandwidth.

One application of VPnet is to make distance teaching seem natural and transparent. Unlike old analog systems, very rich and complete human interactions are possible at a distance. These interactions are almost like being face-to-face, and include being able to read body language and facial expressions. Also, complicated whiteboard presentations, complex graphics, and elaborate computer displays can be transmitted in real time. This enables ‘same room’ effects for collaboration that is highly attractive.

The first communication over VPnet was on April 15 with a videoconference between SIRTI and Whitworth College. The link ran at 1 gigabit with the videoconference transmission at 1.5 megabit -- the upper limit of the current video equipment.
Technology Training
The Inland Northwest Technology Education Center (INTEC) is a state-funded effort to develop means for providing affordable, quick-turn-around technical education in the biomedical and information technology arenas. It is a partnership between industry, education, and government with the ultimate goal of creating economic prosperity for the region. INTEC’s mission is to fuel economic growth through innovation, technology, and training.

The Health Care Sector

Inland Northwest Health Service (INHS) exemplifies the “Intelligent” use of connectivity for health care. INHS began in 1994 as collaboration between Empire Health Services and Providence Services of Eastern Washington and is a 501(c)(3) corporation.

From their headquarters in the Holley-Mason Building, INHS operates a private, unified regional network using Internet Protocols (IP). This is a private network specifically for healthcare and is the basis for their Information Resource Management Division. Their Wide Area Network (WAN) in Washington serves rural areas and hospitals from Newport to Aberdeen and from Republic to Goldendale. INHS uses the NoaNet for high-speed/broadband health care delivery in rural areas where it is available.

In Spokane, INHS has a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) that is an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) fiber ring connecting hospitals, physicians, imaging companies, pharmacies, and PAML, the reference laboratory. INHS is currently in the process of changing ATM to gigabit Ethernet. The WAN connects through INHS to the MAN. Each hospital has a Local Area Network (LAN) that also connects to the MAN. Spokane’s hospitals are among the ‘most wired’ in the world. Because this is a dedicated network, it is unified, secure and stable.

As custodian of the networks, INHS creates and implements standards and protocols making all of the networks work together, and making sure that the entire network can be used for data exchange, or video, or voice. INHS is also the trusted source for security. They have implemented security standards, security practices, and are the watchdogs that monitor network security. Additional benefits of the fiber ring and infrastructure include data backup and storage, disaster recovery, redundancy, and bandwidth management. According to Fred Galusha, CIO, the network has been five years in the making, and 300 new physicians have signed up to use it, just since January. Because the hospitals don’t have to worry about infrastructure and its management, they can concentrate on applications that serve their patients.

INHS has been inventive in their use of this network. They have instituted a program they call “Telepharmacy.” Telepharmacy began when the hospital in Othello, Washington lost its pharmacist and was unable to find a replacement. INHS, working with Sacred Heart Medical Center helped solve the problem. Using Pyxis Corporation hardware and software and the INHS WAN, the rural physician writes a prescription, which is scanned using PyxisConnect, and subsequently entered into the hospital’s database. The scanned image is transmitted to the Sacred Heart pharmacy. The pharmacist on duty at Sacred Heart views the digitally clarified image and reviews the order. The Spokane-based pharmacist checks for adverse drug interactions, and current lab values, and then approves the order, which allows the Pyxis medication administration cabinet to authorize access to stored medications. The pharmacist and the doctor or nurse at the remote hospital can consult over a video link when needed. Using the WAN, the medication can be visually verified before administration. “No one else in the United States has this system,” says Nancy Vorhees, INHS COO.

The Information Resources Management (IRM) division of INHS is continually implementing new technology made possible by the network. They have implemented electronic clinical documentation at the bedside and radiology image distribution. IRM provides online insurance eligibility, patient registration, and appointment scheduling. The IRM, through their program called MedDirect, has a database of over 4,600 regional physicians and mid-level practitioners for patient referral, consultation, information and research. Through their 24 x 7 help desk, INHS connects these health professionals as needed. Thanks to the INHS WAN, the connection requires only 3–5 minutes.

The INHS networks are used heavily for many applications. There is a newly implemented system for electronic patient charts that can be viewed at bedside on handheld hardware. There is the capability for emergency medicine consultation between the Deaconess emergency room and the Newport and Ferry County hospitals. Educational programs for both patients and professionals are transmitted regularly. The network’s purpose is to provide better health care to the patient at a more affordable cost.

The Business Sector
The Terabyte Triangle
The downtown Terabyte Triangle exemplifies use of optical fiber for business and economic development. There is a large concentration of optical fiber within the Terabyte Triangle – a triangular, 30 block region surrounding the downtown core. Many of these network connections begin and end in the US Bank building. Within the Terabyte Triangle, Columbia Fiber has many fiber vaults so that the connection point between almost any building and the optical fiber cable is a short and affordable distance.

The Terabyte Triangle began in 1997 to stimulate the downtown economy by encouraging downtown landlords to retrofit vintage buildings with optical fiber connectivity. Focus groups were held to identify businesses needs, and Terabyte Triangle volunteers spoke at various venues to educate the public about the Terabyte Triangle concept. The Fernwell Building pioneered the concept in 1997. An inventory was taken in 1999, and the number of connected buildings in downtown Spokane was up to twelve. Now, in 2003, the number of fiber-connected buildings in Spokane has increased to 151. If the District 81 buildings are excluded, there are 93 fiber-connected buildings.

The phrase ‘Baked Alaska Building’ was coined to describe the connected, vintage building. A ‘Baked Alaska Building’ has a cool historic exterior that is wrapped around a white-hot center of advanced telecommunications and computer technology.
The crown jewel of such buildings is Spokane’s turn-of-the- 20th-century Davenport Hotel. Opened July, 2002 after seventeen darkened years, the exterior is a glowing combination of historic brick, molded terra cotta, a massive stained glass skylight, countless stone carvings and an elaborate onion dome entryway dripping with glass panels and quaintly carved metal. The interior technology, by contrast, is blazingly advanced. There are two OC 12 fiber connections, zones of popular 802.11 (WiFi) wireless for laptops, and a subterranean Network Operations Center, which connects the ultrahigh bandwidth below decks to state of the art last mile wireless on the roof.

The pioneering Fernwell building has become the epicenter of specialized high volume web traffic in downtown. The building’s technology core is based on fiber connections from Time Warner Telecom, 180 Networks, Qwest and XO, providing both heroic throughput and massive redundancy to Fernwell’s Internet traffic flow. Fernwell is headquarters to Real Resume, which processes over five million Internet resumes per year for national employment Web sites, and of Home Debut, which imports and exports a torrential stream of multimedia data for the real estate industry. There are also very heavy bandwidth users in more traditional services, like accounting and law. All this is wrapped in a spectacular historic package, designed by architect Hermann Preusse and built in 1891. In the spirit of those wealthy years -- in which “leasable footage optimization” was a phrase as alien as “MP3 downloading” -- the building is wrapped around a huge sky lit central atrium which, adorned by old carved oak and elaborately wrought metalwork, descends vertically to illuminate the entire Fernwell interior.

A derelict hulk in 1995, downtown’s most diverse technology core is found in the Holley-Mason building --- a virtual microcosm of innovation in the Inland Northwest. Technology dominates, from the basement, where fiber from 180 Networks, XO and Qwest enters the building, to the top floor, where a complete biotechnology laboratory and development center has just served as the launch pad for bio-tech company GenPrime’s new product against Anthrax terrorism. In between, there are technology tenants such as ChoiceNet, INHS, the Information Technologies Academy and Biotechnology Academy for the high school age group, and leading-edge developer Maplewood Software, which routinely ships code to Microsoft. The Holley-Mason was built in 1905 as a hardware store and warehouse and was Spokane’s first fireproof building of reinforced concrete. Nonetheless, it is quite airy and decorative with its tawny brick veneer, multistory Italianate windows and charmingly figured terra cotta trim.

Recently, a young Japanese urban planner, after visiting Steam Plant Square, described it as “the coolest place” he had seen in his seventeen-city tour of America’s restored downtowns. Architecturally, Steam Plant is a fusion, combining the 1890 Seehorn building with the 1916 Central Steam Plant by means of a newly constructed central courtyard. The Central Steam Plant delivers the greatest historical drama, with twin 225-foot patterned-brick smokestacks, massive arch-topped metal mullioned windows, boilers, pipes, steel catwalks, and titanic interior coalbunker.

The Steam Plant is now home to some of Spokane’s most advanced connectivity installations. The building’s Network Operations Center is a multi-million dollar asset with elaborate provisions for backup power, security, and Internet server collocation space, all supported by multiple OC 12 fiber connections. Many technology tenants --- including Contineo Technologies, ActiveServers Inc, ILF Media, and Thinking Cap Communications, now heavily use this bandwidth bonanza.
Attracting New Business and Jobs
Three of these buildings were empty in 1999, and now all are heavily occupied and thriving. Connectivity played an important role in all cases. At the latest inventory taken in 2002, there were over one hundred technology based businesses in the Terabyte Triangle.

Many of these technology occupants are new, small businesses that didn’t exist five years ago. These are businesses with names like APerfectWeb, Maplewood Software, InfoAxis, Zyzox, ILF Media, OneEighty Networks, NetRiver, Earth Goods, NextIT, Media Joe, Memories by Design, etc.. In this economy, these new businesses tend to grow cautiously; but they are growing and creating new jobs. Most have chosen to be downtown in the Terabyte Triangle to take advantage of the high-speed, broadband connectivity, but the feeling of excitement around the revitalization of the downtown core with its arts district, coffee houses, restaurants, shops, and department stores is also a definite factor.

Although downtown may have the greatest concentration of new, small business, other areas of the city are growing as well. There are other clusters including hospitals, clinics, and medical centers. There is a biotechnology park under construction, and Cyan World, maker of Myst and Riven, is just to the north.

The Digital Divide

Because Spokane is an intelligent community, we know that connectivity must also be used for community development. If the community is healthy, then business is healthy. Spokane has three neighborhood centers in those neighborhoods with the greatest needed. All neighborhood centers have computer labs where classes are taught, and where residents can access the Internet. All branch libraries have computers with Internet access available for use by anyone with a library card.

The Inland Northwest Community Access Network (TINCAN) is a non-profit organization that started in 1994 to provide education and support for social, economic, and community development. TINCAN provides computer and network access, content and training to low-income people, rural, and local communities. TINCAN serves Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille Counties. Some funding comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

All TINCAN’s programs employ computer technology and the Internet, and their projects intertwine, build on, and enhance each other. The Inland Northwest Virtual Incubator (INVI) supports the Young Entrepreneurs Center. Rural Schools and Entrepreneurship teaches concepts of e-commerce to secondary school business students who can then take part in the INVI. The e-business course teaches high school students how computers and the Internet can make business more efficient and effective, how to use newsletters as a tool, and how to use the Internet for customer service. Some of TINCAN’s programs are free; some have a small fee.

To facilitate their educational endeavors, TINCAN has a mobile computer lab, which consists of laptops and uses wireless connections to network. This lab can go anywhere that has at least a single phone line for access. They have also partnered with the community centers and teach in the community center’s computer labs, covering basic use of the Internet, e-business for small business, and Web site management. “To teach Web basics, we find a subject of special interest to the student and show them that there is a lot about that topic on the Internet,” according to Karen Michaelson, TINCAN director. “By the time, they’ve discovered what is available to them about that topic, they’ve learned how to search on the Internet.”

TINCAN’s Virtual Incubator serves as an online home for small businesses and micro-enterprises in the four counties TINCAN serves. Membership in the incubator is open to existing businesses or start-ups, but the member should expect to ‘graduate’ in two years or less. There is a charge for membership, and in return, there are many benefits.

City of Spokane Government

The City of Spokane uses its connectivity for emergency vehicle deployment, traffic control, libraries, and on-line social and government services. One of the oldest is the city’s Geographic Information System (GIS). Adopted relatively early, the GIS was developed as by a consortium involving Avista Corporation, The City of Spokane, Spokane County, other Eastern Washington Counties, and North Idaho.

Spokane is implementing a long term Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for the Spokane region. The first phase – nearly complete – calls for a state-of-the-art communications infrastructure that was created by upgrading and adding to the existing communications network. A major addition to the network is the Spokane Regional Traffic Management Center (SRTMC). This control and equipment room is located in the Spokane Multi-modal Center and has workstations at the City, County, State, and Spokane Transit Authority traffic management centers. Because this is a regional hub, a variety of technologies and connectivities are needed. The SRTMC provides traffic management and traveler information, accurate real-time transportation, weather and construction information, coordinates incident response, and traffic control system integration. The SRTMC also serves as a regional data warehouse to collect, manage, and disseminate information collected from inter-agency and cross-jurisdictional sources. (See Spokane Regional ITS Implementation Plan)

Social Services
In social services, Spokane Human Services Department developed an Innovative Homeless Project. The purpose of the project was to help the homeless population by finding available resources and devising a means for the homeless to gain knowledge of and access to these resources. The Innovative Project was successful in developing a Web site where professionals as well as homeless individuals can get up-do-date information about homeless services. Professionals can also access information critical to timely referral such as daily shelter vacancies. Currently there is information from over 16 homeless serving programs on the Web. Using the mix of public and private dollars, the Project funded the necessary computers/modems for programs allowing them to link with the various automated resources. A total of 14 systems or system upgrades were placed in the Homeless Service Provider community and one central system was purchased for the City Human Services Department to coordinate information.
The Civic Future
The City of Spokane, over eight years of process, six years of meetings with hundreds of civic organizations, input from thousands of citizens, and hours upon hours of deliberations, recommended a new comprehensive plan. Following months of public hearing and study sessions; the City Council adopted the revised Comprehensive Plan. The plan includes plans for a technology friendly and ‘intelligent’ future.

The Sports, Arts and Entertainment Sector

Spokane’s new Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures includes the Virtual Gallery of Native American Artifacts incorporating collections and materials maintained by the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, the Heritage Center, the Plateau tribes, and Alaskan Natives.

Spokane has two community-wide participation sport- related events – Hoopfest and Bloomsday. Hoopfest is the world's largest 3-on-3-basketball tournament with over 6,000 teams and approximately 130,000 participants and visitors attending. Hoopfest has partnered with many companies to build an IT infrastructure. Growing from their first network in 1996, they now use a full complement of shrink-wrapped and custom productivity software, and web sites for general information, results reporting, online registration and e-commerce.

Bloomsday is the world’s largest timed road race attracting tens of thousands of runner. Every runner’s time is recorded and saved as s/he passes the finish line. This is a feat of technology.

Even the Big Brothers and Big Sisters bingo hall is wired.

Regional Funding and Risk Capital

Although millions upon millions in investment capital has funded local technology startups, it is still generally agreed that Spokane could use more investment capital. Investment sources include Jaguar Ventures, Northwest Venture Associates, Biogenetic Ventures, the Delta Angel Group, and the Spokane Angel Network, ICM Asset Management, and Northwest Business Development Association. The Eastern Washington, North Idaho District of the Small Business Administration is active in guaranteeing bank loans to small business. Commercial bank loans are available. Some alternative funding such as SBIR grants and Washington Technology Center commercialization grants are available. University/Industry grants have been awarded through the Department of the Navy, National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Health. However, when a growing, second stage company needs a large cash infusion, it generally comes from venture capital funds outside the Spokane area. All too often, the funders require the funded company to relocate.

There are exceptions -- Translation Technologies, Inc. and LineSoft, Inc. Translation Technologies began with funding from Spokane Angel Network then received help from the SIRTI incubator, and then received venture capital funding. LineSoft began with an SBA backed commercial loan, and later received $25 Million from GFI Energy Ventures, LLC out of Los Angles.

Some funding is available through the Spokane Neighborhood Economic Development Alliance (SNEDA). This fund is tied to specific neighborhoods called empowerment zones. Businesses available for SNEDA funding must be located within the empowerment zone, but may be start-ups, expanding businesses, or existing businesses relocating to the empowerment zone. These businesses must also create livable wage jobs.


As an Intelligent Community, Spokane has hundreds of accomplishments and measurable results. However, the items listed here are a representative sample of the many things that have been accomplished to date. More important are the multitude of ideas, projects, and innovations planned for the future. Spokane is not only Intelligent today, it plans to remain on the cutting edge far into the future.

Key Public-Sector Officials

Elected Officials

 Tom Foley, Speaker, United States House of Representatives. As representative of Eastern Washington, Mr. Foley was instrumental in getting federal funding for SIRTI.
 George Nethercutt, Representative, U. S. House of Representatives. As representative from Eastern Washington, Mr. Nethercutt has been instrumental in obtaining federal appropriations that greatly help science and technology programs in Spokane.
 Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Senate. Washington State’s senior senator, Ms. Murray sits on Senate Appropriations and Budget Committeess and as such has been instrumental in obtaining federal appropriations for the Spokane area.
 Senator Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senate. As Washington State’s junior senator Ms. Cantwell, who has a background in the high-tech industry and serves on the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Small Business and Entreprenuership Committee. As such she has been instrumental and supportive of Spokane’s innovation economy strategy.
 John Powers, Mayor. As the first ‘strong’ mayor in the newly created Spokane Strong Mayor form of government, Mr. Powers is the first Mayoral candidate to include fostering of technology, connectivity, and technology business in his platform. He continues to lead the community forward with strategic investments in the community.

 Gary Livingston, Superintendent of Schools. As Superintendent, Mr. Livingston approved and furthered the construction of District 81’s EMAN, and was instrumental in the creation of the Information Technologies Academy and the Biotechnology Academy.
 Dennis Schweikhardt, Manager of Technology Infrastructure for District 81. As manager, Mr. Schweikhardt helped with the design of the EMAN, chose the electronics to light the fiber, and watched over the execution of the EMAN.
Higher Education Leadership Group
 Steve Jordan, President, Eastern Washington University. President Jordan was an early adopter of the Inland Northwest Digital University (INDU) concept, and is instrumental in the formation of VPnet.
 William Robinson, President, Whitworth College. President Robinson and Whitworth were part of the application of VPnet.
 Father Robert Spitzer, President, Gonzaga University. Gonzaga is a partner in VPnet and is located in the heart of downtown Spokane.
 Rom Markham, Dean, Washington State University at Spokane. WSU is another partner in the VPnet and led the design of the cutting edge infrastructure for the University District to include high speed broadband facilities in order to create the campus of the future in downtown Spokane.


 Patrick Tam, PhD, Director, SIRTI and predecessors have all been supportive of the Intelligent Community. Dr. Tam and SIRTI are working with VPnet, technology transfer, and technology business incubation.

City of Spokane

 Kim Pearman-Gillman, Economic Development Advisor, City of Spokane. Ms. Pearman-Gillman, as part of the Mayor’s team and in her many economic development roles at Avista, has worked for all manners of economic development within the community including the start up of Terabyte Triangle, as co-developer of Steam Plant Square, as Chair of the Davenport Arts District, as founding CEO of INTEC, and with the ‘Intelligent Community’ specifically.
 Mike Edwards, Director, Downtown Spokane Partners. As Director of Downtown Spokane Partners, Mr. Edwards has worked to make downtown an attractive, clean, and safe environment. Edwards has worked steadfastly to further the Terabyte Triangle.

Key Private-Sector Executives

Business and Real Estate

 Tom Power, Owner Fernwell Building. Mr. Power was the first developer to supply fiber connectivity into his building.
 Ron and Julie Wells, Wells & Company. Spokane commercial and residential developers, Wells & Company specializes in historic preservation and retrofitting buildings to retain historic charm while providing high-tech interiors.
 Scott Morris, President Avista Utilities. Mr. Morris has taken economic development to a new level by donating the dark fiber infrastructure his company built and setting up the Virtual Possibilities Network.
 Rob Brewster, ConoverBond, Inc. Mr. Brewster is another developer who has developed connected buildings while preserving historic identities.
 Walt and Karen Worthy, Walt Worthy Enterprises. The Worthys restored the grand Davenport Hotel to its original turn of the 20th century elegance while making the interior a high-tech wonder.
 Paul Sandifur, Metropolitan Financial Center. Mr. Sandifur’s company finances start-up and second stage businesses especially through Jaguar Ventures.
 Greg Green, OneEighty Networks. Mr. Green provides business and residential connectivity, and serves as a co-location facility for non-profits.
 Jim Simmons, ICM Asset Management, Inc. Mr. Simmons serves as a mentor to small business start-ups providing expertise, encouragement, and funding.
 Bernard Daines, World Wide Packets, Inc. Inventor and entrepreneur, Mr. Daines company provides jobs and innovation to the community. He is generous in his partnerships with schools and colleges.
 Ben Cabildo, AHANA, USA. Mr. Cabildo provides business counseling and advice and is a mentor to the community’s minority population.
 Jill Smith, Partner, Odd Girls, LLC. Ms. Smith is developing a city block into an Arts District in downtown Spokane. The block includes theater, art galleries, and crafts galleries.
 Avista Development, Inc. Developed the fastest building in the west when they redeveloped their 1917 Central Steam Plant into Steam Plant Square. Home to over 15 businesses utilizing state of the art fiber infrastructure this 2001 National Historic Preservation Honor Award winner put Spokane on the map for historic preservation on the national level. The company has other key developments in the Terabyte Triangle.


 Steve Simmons, Professor, Eastern Washington University. Dr. Simmons conceived of and guided the Terabyte Triangle to fruition, and was the originator of the Inland Northwest Digital University (INDU). He is also spearheading the VPnet.
 Karen Michaelson, PhD., Karen L Michaelson & Assoc. Dr. Michaelson is the founder of and director of TINCAN.
 Tom Fritz, CEO, INHS. Mr. Fritz at INHS has helped improve the access to health care of the entire region.
 Fred Brown, CEO, NextIT, Inc. Mr. Brown is an entrepreneur and innovator known for “cowboy ethics” – have honesty, have integrity, have fun, and never, never give up.
 Lewis Rumpler, CEO, INTEC, As CEO of INTEC, Mr. Rumpler has facilitated over $1.1 million in new grants, partnered with SCC and District 81 to help found the Biotechnology Academy, worked to deliver a biopharmaceutical certification program, and is providing a catalyst to Eastern Washington’s future success.
 Bill Kalivas, Co-Founder, LauchPad Productions, With LaunchPad Productions, Mr. Kalivas has provided innovative programs and forums with exceptional speakers, and networking opportunities in a party type atmosphere.
 Jeannine Marx, President, Technet Northwest. Under Ms. Marx guidance, Technet Northwest serves as the region’s conduit to technology resources, utilizing education and networking among technology business professionals, educators, and entrepreneurs.

 Paul Redmond, CEO Washington Water Power (Now Avista Corp.). Mr. Redmond guided the utility through the fiber optic formative period.
 Don Kopczynski, CEO, Avista Fiber. Mr. Kopczynski led Avista Fiber through fiber optic deployment.
 Jim Burke and Dan Stutzke, Engineers, Network Designers, Project Managers. The team of Burke and Stutzke, while working for Avista Fiber, designed Spokane’s fiber optic network, created the network’s business plan, and guided the actual installation of the fiber optic network.
 Mitzi Sachs, VP, Time-Warner Telecom. Ms. Sachs helped guide the installation of the Time-Warner fiber optic network, and is instrumental in getting fiber into local buildings.
 Stu Stiles, CEO XO Communications. Mr. Stiles contributes to fiber optic connectivity in Spokane’s Intelligent Community.
 Keith Adams, Engineer, Qwest. Mr. Adams is Qwest’s engineer on the Spokane scene. He answers all the questions.
 John Everett, General Manager, Columbia Fiber Solutions. Mr. Everett and Columbia Fiber lease dark fiber and provide last mile solutions. They have contributed significantly to the VPnet.


 Tony Bonanzino, CEO Hollister-Steir Laboratory. Mr. Bonanzino purchased an ailing biotechnology business and turned it into a thriving, productive, and global business.
 Patrick Jones, founder of Biotechnology Association of the Spokane Region. Mr. Jones is the executive director of the Biotechnology Association of the Spokane Region (BASR).

Supporting URL

Principal URL
Terabyte Triangle:

Other Supporting URL’s
Fernwell Building:
Wells and Company:
Davenport Hotel:
ConoverBond, Inc.,
City of Spokane:
Spokane Economic Development Council:
Spokane Neighborhoods:
Technet Northwest:
Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce:
Avista Corporation:
Columbia Fiber, Inc.:
Network Computing Magazine:
Spokane Research and Education K-12:
Steam Plant Square:
Eastern Washington University:
Gonzaga University:
Washington State University:
Whitworth College:
Community Colleges of Spokane:

Intelligent Communities Nomination Work Team

Steve Simmons, Terabyte Triangle
Kim Pearman-Gillman, City of Spokane/Avista Corp.
Community Partners:
Barb Chamberlain, Washington State University
Ben Cabildo, AHANA
Bill Gillis, WSU Center to Bridge the Digital Divide
Bill Kalivas, INTEC
Billie Moreland, BM&A, Terabyte Triangle
Chad Hutson, INHS
Dan Stuztke, CSK Communications
Daro Walker, ILF Media
Dennis Schweickardt, School District 81
Denny Lordan, INHS
Fred Brown, NextIT
Fred Galusha, INHS
Garret Daggett, Avista Advantage
Jeannine Marx, Technet
Jermaine Ducham, Future Spokane Leader
Jim Burke, CSK Communications
Jim Swoboda, ILF Media
Jeff Thomas, Klundt Hosmer
Judy Cole, Avista Utilities
Julia Bauler, City of Spokane
Juliet Esguerra, Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce
Macauley Pearman-Gillman, Future Spokane Leader
Mara Toth, Future Spokane Leader
Marcus Ducham, Future Spokane Leader
Marty Dickinson, Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce
Mike Edwards, Downtown Spokane Partnership
Nancy Vorhees, INHS
Nicole Hillman, Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce
Patrick Tam, SIRTI
Renee Anderson, INHS
Rich Hadley, Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce
Rick Delker, ILF Media
Robin Toth, City of Spokane Economic Development
Schuyler Pearman-Gillman, Future Spokane Leader
Terry Novak, Eastern Washington Univeristy, Urban Planning
Tom Reese, City of Spokane Economic Development

Billie Moreland
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